Orthodox Christians Are Thankful for Catholic Bishops' Defense of Religious Liberty
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Orthodox Christians recognize the importance and significance of the battle before us.
Orthodox Christians are grateful for the vocal and passionate public stance of Catholic Bishops and leaders who categorically oppose Obama's HHS healthcare mandate. Your courage in defending our constitutionally protected religious liberty is making us stronger. Your public and uncompromising witness is giving us hope.
Cardinal Dolan and Metropolitan Jonah
LOS ANGELES,CA. (Catholic Online) - Orthodox Christians are thankful and grateful for the vocal and passionate public stance of Catholic Bishops and Catholic leaders who categorically oppose Obama's HHS healthcare mandate. Your courage in defending our constitutionally protected religious liberty is making us stronger. Your public and uncompromising witness to Christian principles and your passionate advocacy in protecting the life of the unborn is giving us hope.
We embrace and support you as brothers in Christ and co-workers for righteousness. As Orthodox Metropolitan Jonah stood side-by-side with Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan in praying together at this year's March for Life , we stand in solidarity with you in demanding the repeal of the HHS mandate and in defense of the religious liberty of all Americans.
It's impressive and inspiring to witness the speed and conviction with which Catholic Bishops and other Catholic organizations responded to the new HHS rule and denounced it as unconstitutional and immoral from the start. On the same day the Obama administration made the announcement, January 20, 2012, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a press release declaring it unconscionable and a blatant violation of religious liberty.
"To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty," powerfully stated then cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the USCCB. In a video message recorded by the archbishop he sharply criticized the White House: "Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."
Cardinal Dolan was not alone in the immediate and unequivocal public condemnation of the HHS mandate. Other Catholic leaders also spoke out against it. "This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights," said Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein , chairperson of the board at Franciscan Alliance, Inc., a system of 13 Catholic hospitals. "I have hundreds of employees who will be upset and confused by this edict." Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic university watchdog group, denounced the "cult of choice" agenda of the Obama administration. "The White House has sold the First Amendment for a few pennies of political support from the ACLU and the abortion lobby," he said.
More Catholic Bishops joined the chorus of opposition very quickly. Addressing the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of January 22, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, excoriated the HHS rule. "Never before in our US History has the Federal Government forced citizens to directly purchase what violates our beliefs. At issue here as our President of the Conference stated it this past Friday, is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for conscience and religious liberty," proclaimed Cardinal DiNardo.
By January 25, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, publicly denounced the "severe assault on religious liberty" and bravely asked Christians in his dioceses to consider civil disobedience rather than violate the Church's teachings. In his open letter, read aloud in Catholic parishes across the Phoenix diocese, Bishop Olmstead criticized the Obama administration for casting "aside the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty," and called on the faithful to refuse to comply with the unjust law.
"We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. . Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores ...
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